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This is the page for 250 Cowley Road.

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2017: The empty unit with new metal shutters.
2016: The former Excelsior frontage about to be removed.

2018: Pepe's Piri Piri

The shop has finally reopened as Pepe's Piri Piri "the home of fresh flame grilled chicken"

2014 - 2017: Empty

The Excelsior stood empty from 2014 while it was completely refurbished. The iconic shopfront was completely destroyed and replaced with metal shutters.

1954 - 2014: The Excelsior Cafe

The Excelsior 'greasy spoon' cafe was a Cowley Road institution which closed in 2014, as reported by the Oxford Mail. It first appeared in directories as the New Excelsior (J H Harrison) in 1954. Before that it was a café run by Mrs E Chiddington from 1939 and by Mrs M E Harding from 1947.

A series of black and white photos of the cafe's patrons was made by photographer Kirk Ellingham and some are available online. The photos were exhibited at the Old Fire Station in August 2018.

A memorable review by Robin Mackay described the atmosphere (evidently predating the 2007 smoking ban):

"No sooner has one entered this place than one is entirely overcome by an almost toxic metaphysical gloom, way beyond what might be causally explained by the miasma of budget cigarette smoke streaming constantly from the antediluvian countenances of the regulars... "

A video memory of the cafe from an Oxford University perspective in 2013: https://youtu.be/N6YOto6tBUI

Legendary proprietor Costas photographed in the Excelsior in 2005, by Kamyar Adl on Flickr. The original analogue till was just as famous.
2008: A photo of the Excelsior cafe exterior by Ceridwen from geograph.co.uk

Before then?

Cowleyroad.org is a DIY community history - help us write it!

Do you know more about this business, or remember what was at this address before? Do you have any old photographs or memories to share? Please add them to the site! Here is a how-to guide.